Vancouver’s famed Railway Club played host this past March 30th to a few of Tennessee’s finest as The Howlin’ Brothers came through town making their sole Canadian Stop on their current tour in support of their upcoming long play release titled “Trouble”. As an added bonus, concert goers also learned that the band will be performing at this summers Vancouver Folk Festival this July 18th to 20th.

Sounding as though they wandered in from the hills of the Great Smokey Mountains, The Howlin’ Brothers bring an authentic and earnest Americana sound to the stage. With lead singer Ian Craft switching between accompanying fiddle or banjo, Jared Green strumming an acoustic guitar, laying some soul with the mouth organ, singing backup or lead, and occasionally dancing on an amplified board to enhance the rhythm, and with stand up bassist Ben Plasse being the true time-keeper of the group as the trio do not tour with a drummer, the talented trio often sound like they possess at least double the half dozen hands they share on the stage.

The Howlin’ Brothers were formed in 2003 and are based in Hermitage Tennessee. In their early years, the band have performed locally in and around the Nashville circuit, and according to Ben, began touring away from home in earnest over the past few years. It’s been a fascinating ride for the band who have recently performed with Ricky Skaggs, participated in and performed on a PBS special on Sun Studios called the The Sun Sessions, and signed with Readymade Records, a special label owned and operated by Brendan Benson of The Raconteurs and The Greenhornes, and who also produced both their last and upcoming albums.

On this evening, fans were treated to a series of great songs:

Are you drunk?
Monroe ****
World spinning round ****
Boogie ****
Hard Times ****
Dixie Fried 1
Bateman Dance
Whitehouse Blues **
Louisiana ****
Yuma Train 2
Gone ***
Charleston Chew 1
Big time ***
Pack up Joe ****
Lady miss classy
Gotta travel on (Billy Grammer)


Cumberland gap (Woody Guthrie)

** Long Hard Year (2009)
*** from the album Howl (2013)
**** from the album Trouble (2014)
1 from the album The Sun Studio Sessions (2014)
2 from the Audio Tree Sessions (2012)

These earlier albums are available only at the shows:
Tragic Mountain Songs (2007), Long Hard Year (2009), Baker St. Blues (2011)

The show itself was a fun evening of entertainment and refined musicianship. The overall effect of the Howlin’ Brothers is one of sincere authenticity, paying tribute to past masters while simultaneously creating something new. The crowd in attendance was spirited group, with two ladies rising to the challenge to put on a traditional dance in their long flowing skirts and ankle boots inspiring Jared to step down from the stage and join them.

If you have a chance to catch The Howlin’ Brothers on tour, you certainly should. The band have a list of their upcoming shows listed on their official website and for Vancouverites, this summer at the Vancouver Folk Festival this July 18th to 20th. For more information about The Howlin’ Brothers, be sure to visit their official website: You can also follow them on Facebook:

Photographs and words © Gerry Toews / All Rights Reserved


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